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I grew up in a time when people roamed the streets. A time where everyone filled malls and schools, buying and learning. A time where my parents took the bus to work and I stayed at home with a babysitter who cycled to me. It was a simple time, but only in the sense that everything was incredibly basic.
As it stands today, nobody leaves their home, ever. Those without a home were thrown into an institution, a place where their bloodline would end. It only took a decade for the world's population to be culled down to the middle-class and the wealthy. However, that didn’t matter anymore.
What did matter in these times were how fast everything was delivered to your doorstep. The average person had skin bleached by the light of their computers, or otherwise, lightened. However, nobody was obese despite their living arrangements. Exercise equipment and chemical infused food products kept everyone fit, but contained.
Even I fell victim to the same trap. However, it only took a knife and a screwdriver to disable the lock that kept us inside. My family stayed, glued to their screens and enjoying their wonderful food, but I was beyond that now. I was not so easily corrupted by this dystopian society, so I found paradise.
Leaving my home, I was greeted with a wonderful sight for sore eyes. Natural colours lit with natural light. Synthetic was all you could find inside and thus, it lacked any warmth. However, what I felt was crippling. I fell forward, laying on the ground with my body burning. The world never felt so hot and luckily, I wasn’t too far gone. I believe in that moment, no matter how healthy I was, I would have had a heart attack.
A moment of understanding dawned on me and I realized why the forces in charge kept everyone indoors. After many years of pumping chemicals and life-altering drugs into the populace, it was now kept on a short leash. However, like I said earlier, I was not too far gone.
Pushing myself to my feet, I expected the worst to happen. I would either be swarmed by robots or other forces who would arrest me or throw me back in my home. However, if I recall correctly, there was nothing in the laws that said that we had to stay in our homes.
We were given the illusion of choice, which is why knowing we could leave any time, we were happy to stay all the time. It didn’t work on me, so I was greeted with the emptiness of the world. No amount of VR did it justice. The outside world was far more beautiful in it’s own way. There was life to the colours, no matter how dull or bright they were.
I walked, stroking my arms and face, rubbing every piece of skin touched my sunlight. It faded from a burning to an itching. It was an incredible amount of discomfort, but my mind was too absorbed by what was around me, at least initially. The itching feeling seemed to only take over my thoughts and I soon retreated the shade of a building to find it wasn’t the sun which made me feel this way, it was the unprocessed air. The only escape from such a feeling was by going back into my home.
However, my heart wouldn’t allow that, so I suffered. I walked down an empty road, grunting, groaning and at some points screaming in pain. My body, as I learned later on, was adjusting to the real world. The unique toxins in the air that my skin had forgotten. It was a measure the higher powers took to keep us in our homes, by adjusting our bio-structure so we would never last in the real world.
The extent of my pain had me believing that I was going to die, but with each step I took, I felt the pain less. I was breaking free of their hold over me, but it was so slow. I remember those hours so vividly, as I fell to the ground so many times to cry and scream. However, there was nothing that could be done and luckily, there was nothing outside that could detect me.
I was safe from the drones, the robots who would drag me to one of the institutions or back home. However, I wouldn’t be for long. Even in the distance I could hear the hum of small engines, the sound of drones flying not too far away. I crawled towards the plants that would hide me, laying there with tears streaming down my face.
I don’t know how long I was there, but it can’t have been more than half-a-day. I passed out and woke up at night, feeling cold, but a lot better than I was the last time my eyes were open. I stood up, listened and began to continue my walk, passing by so many houses lacking windows. In an empty world, I seemed to walk alone, but I enjoyed that more than anything. Not many homes still had people in them. Everything was connected by tunnels if you wanted to visit other people, perhaps take a tube train to someplace far away.
It was so sad that someone couldn’t simply walk outside to go next door. Except me, I saw it all. The abandoned structures, the rusted skyscrapers. The overgrown foliage in the parks. Everything was left to rot or thrive. What thrived was natural, what rotted was man-made. Strange how it worked that way, but the homes and tunnels were all in great condition.
That didn’t matter anymore, what mattered was my next decision. Now that I was out of my prison, with a world at my fingertips, what should I do? What, in a world so empty, could a man such as I, create? With all that I had on me, which wasn’t a lot, I decided to become a pioneer of my own future the way people did a hundred years ago.
Despite all I believed, as I walked towards the forests, I was not alone.
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